Art in the News!

For our Friday post we have links to stories concerning art in the news.  The arts are always popping up in interesting news stories, so, keep your eyes peeled as you’re reading the morning paper or checking the news online!

Herbert Vogel, post clerk and incredible art collector with over 5,000 pieces in a one bedroom apartment, dies at the age of 89.  Rest in peace, Mr. Vogel.  Click here.

July 23rd was the 40th anniversary of the Landsat Satellite program and the USGS and NASA have released the top 5 LandSat images.  The earth as art: click here.

In the hubbub surrounding the London Olympics, the occurrence of Olympic themed street art and graffiti has skyrocketed.  Click here.

In Memphis, TN, the Memphis College of Art is auctioning off the majority of its collection to ease financial strain.  Click here.

Viktor Veckselberg wins a claim to recover financial losses after discovering the painting purchased at auction for 1.7 million pounds (2.6 million US dollars) was not painted by Boris Kustodiev as advertised.  Click here.

Andrew Rogers creates landscape art sculptures best viewed from the air.  Click here for the gallery.

A construction crew has discovered 3,000 year old human remains in west Harris County, near Houston, TX.  Click here.

See how the Houston Museum of Natural Science installs a floating Eurypterid (ancient sea scorpion) sculpture in the new Hall of Paleontology.  Click here.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Dinos abound at the Hall of Paleontology in the Houston Museum of Natural Science!
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Costumes at TX Ren Fest, Scottish Weekend, November, 2011

The Texas Renaissance Festival, the largest Renaissance festival in the United States, is held annually from October to November in Todd Mission, Texas.  Many people express themselves here by creating elaborate costumes and garb in the style of pirates, fantasy, mythical creatures, Steampunk, SciFi, and traditional medieval and Renaissance dress.  It’s a hotbed of creative costume design!

Scottish family roams the marketplace
The manifestation of the Plague
Young Scottish warrior
Barbarians enjoy jousting too
Demon on stilts
Dancing gypsy
Fairies making sand paintings
Barbarian warrior princess on her trusty steed
Just your friendly local centaur

Art Spotted: Burgos, Spain

Cherub Holding Skull, 1500s, Catedral de Burgos, España

This small sculpture of a cherub holding a skull is located next to the central nave of the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, and most probably dates to the first half of the 1500s.  Construction on the cathedral began in 1221 and the high altar was consecrated in 1260.  After 200 years, construction began again and the cathedral was “finished” in 1567, though the Chapel of Saint Tecla was added in the 18th Century.  The cathedral is the burial place of El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar), an early 11th Century military hero, and his wife Doña Jimena.

Door of Saint Mary, Catedral de Burgos, España

Though the cathedral is open to the public for tours, it is a living church that serves the people of Burgos.  The cathedral is also known for being a stop on the El Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James), a pilgrimage route ending at the Santiago de Campostela Cathedral in Galicia, northern Spain, where it is traditionally thought the remains of Saint James are interred.

Seashell marker for the Camino de Santiago on the street in Burgos, España.

Homepage for the Catedral de Burgos.

Featured Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

Our first featured artist is one who is, for many, the epitome of the iconic “tortured artist.”  His influence on 20th Century art is undeniably widespread, but, he produced all of his drawings and paintings in the ten years before his death at the age of 37.  While he produced over 864 paintings and 1,200 drawings that survive to this day, he only sold one painting during his lifetime.  His life was full of tragedy and he is considered one of the most influential artists produced by the Post-Impressionist period.

Irises, May 1889

Vincent Van Gogh was born March 30th, 1853, in the Netherlands.  Initially he aspired to become a pastor, but failed the entrance exam to study theology formally in Amsterdam at the age of 25.  Even though he attempted, but again failed, to complete another three month theology course at a school in Belgium, Vincent took a missionary position in Petit Wasmes, Belgium, in January of 1879.  Though he had an interest in art since a young age, it was there amongst the coal miners that his artistic career truly began.

Miners, September 1880

Vincent was dismissed from his position as a missionary for choosing to live in the same poor conditions as the miners.  He returned home to his parents for a short time, but was unable to overcome the issues he had with his father, Theodorus, who, as a result of their conflicts, made inquiries about having Vincent committed to an insane asylum.  Vincent’s younger brother Theo, an art dealer, saw Vincent’s increasing fascination with drawing and suggested he became an artist.

Vincent Van Gogh, 1871-72

Even though Vincent’s relationship with his father was volatile, he grieved very deeply after Theodorus’ death in 1885.  Vincent subsequently moved to Antwerp and Theo began sending him money to help support him, but Vincent preferred spending that money on art supplies.  His health deteriorated rapidly as his diet consisted mainly of bread, coffee, cigarettes, and absinthe.  In 1886 he moved to Paris to stay with Theo while studying at Fernand Cormon’s studio.  While there he met and befriended well-known artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin.

However, it wasn’t until his move to Arles, France, that he developed the bright, vibrant style for which he is so well-known.  His move to southern France was precipitated by poor health brought about by excessive drinking and smoking.  In 1888, Gauguin came to stay with Vincent, but, by December Vincent was certain his friend was going to desert him after long periods of tension and fierce arguments.  His poor health and increasing exhaustion eventually resulted in an explosive incident where Vincent threatened Gauguin with a razorblade.  After panicking he ran to the local brothel, cut off either a portion of or his entire left ear (depending on which conflicting reports you follow), wrapped it in newspaper, gave it to his favorite prostitute named Rachel, asked her to keep it carefully, made his way back home and collapsed on his bed covered in blood.

Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, January 1889

While in the hospital recovering, Vincent repeatedly asked for Gauguin to visit, but his friend refused, afraid that his presence might cause further incidents.  Gauguin did, however, stay in Arles to keep track of Vincent for a time.  Vincent’s antics while in the hospital became increasingly bizarre and Gauguin wrote that, “His state is worse, he wants to sleep with the patients, chase the nurses, and washes himself in the coal bucket. That is to say, he continues the biblical mortifications.”

Vincent returned to his home in Arles for a short period of time, but, while there he experienced hallucinations and paranoid delusions of being poisoned.  After only a month the police evicted him when thirty townsfolk signed a petition to close down his house.  Vincent spent the most of the last year of his life at an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.  He continued to paint and, while there, produced one of his most well-known works: Starry Night.

Starry Night, June 1889

At the age of 37, on the 27th of July, 1890, he walked into the wheat field he had recently been painting and shot himself in the chest with a revolver.  The bullet was apparently deflected by a rib, passing through his chest and missing most of his internal organs, where it is thought to have been stopped by his spine.  He was able to return to his lodging house, the Auberge Ravoux, in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.  The doctors called to examine him did not have the ability to remove the bullet.  He was left alone in his room, smoking his pipe, to convalesce while Theo was notified.  Theo arrived the next day to find Vincent doing well, but, his condition rapidly deteriorated and Vincent Van Gogh died on the 29th of July, 1890.  His last words to Theo were, “The sadness will last forever.”

Vincent Van Gogh’s influence on later art is widespread and artists have been using his work as an inspiration for the last 122 years.  Though he is widely known now, his work was only just beginning to be recognized at the time of his death and he only sold one painting, The Red Vineyard, during his lifetime.  The fascination we have for Van Gogh is fueled by his bright, whimsical, vibrant style of art, as well as his larger-than-life personality and struggles with mental instability.  We know so much about his life and his thought processes from the hundreds of letters that survive between him and Theo, as well as his parents, Gauguin, and other correspondents.

Wheat Field with Crows, July 1890

His letters have been published online by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and are free for anyone to peruse.  Click here to read!

The biographical novel Lust for Life (1934) by Irving Stone details Van Gogh’s life and was also made into a movie starring Kirk Douglas (1956).  Check out your local library for more details.

In 2010 the BBC aired “Painted with Words,” a documentary starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Van Gogh.  All of the actors’ dialogue are taken directly from Van Gogh’s correspondence.  Click here!

The Van Gogh Gallery has a virtual gallery with Vincent’s work and information about his life.

You can even follow Van Gogh on his blog!

Fourth Annual Regional Art Juried Exhibition and Dieter Balzer Exhibition

The show currently featured in the Forsyth Galleries is our Fourth Annual Regional Art Juried Exhibition.  The first exhibition, held in 2009, consisted of only 42 entries.  This year we received 242 entries from 87 artists and, of these, were able to exhibit 76 works from 43 artists from South and Central Texas.  Notably we have been able to feature a wider range of media for this exhibition.  The first annual juried exhibition consisted exclusively of painting, sculpture, and glass.  The current display expanded the scope to also include drawing, photography, mixed media, fiber arts, quilting, digital video, and metalwork.

The current exhibition runs until August 18th, 2012.  The next show will contain pieces of Steuben and Tiffany glass from the Runyon Collection, permanently housed at the Forsyth Galleries.  These pieces will be on display from September 3rd to September 29th.  Running concurrently with the exhibition of Steuben and Tiffany glass will be a showing of Maiolica pottery from the Marion Byrd Collection and will be on display from from September 3rd until November 2nd.

Steuben Aurene Vase, circa 1905-10


Majolica pottery is tin-glazed earthen earthenware and was originally produced with its characteristic opaque white glaze beginning in the 9th Century in Iraq and then spreading to the far reaches of Western Europe by the 16th Century.  It is typically decorated with brightly colored paintings to create dynamic and engaging scenes often depicting historic and legendary events.

Dish from Deruta, Italy, dating to the 2nd quarter of the 16th Century. Housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The MSC James R. Reynolds Student Art Gallery’s current exhibition features work by Dieter Balzer (1958- ).  Balzer was born in Germany and currently works in Berlin.  He studied at the Government College of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway, the College of Art in Chesterfield, Great Britain, and Heidelberg University in Heidelberg, Germany.  He has exhibited in group and solo shows across Europe, Canada, and the United States.  Balzer has been exploring three-dimensional picture-objects and modular sculptures since the mid-1980s.  The modular system allows for a multitude of combinations of identical elements. The pieces are made from MDF and adhesive foil.  Balzer’s colorful, geometric abstraction gives the pieces depth and interest.  This exhibition was organized by Gallery Sonja Roesch in Houston, Texas, and runs until August 24th.

First post coming soon!

Welcome to the Forsyth Center Galleries art blog!  In addition to covering current and upcoming exhibitions, we will also be blogging about art in general.  We will be featuring different artists, materials, techniques, and time periods.  In addition to covering “traditional” forms of art, including painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography, we will also be exploring the worlds of fiber arts, quilting, music, jewelry, fashion, architecture, costume design, and landscape design.  If you think it’s art in any way, shape, or form, we’ll talk about it!